Competition 2007

Round 6.- Solutions


- 2 right answers from 2 participants

Photo: Deák Attila, 2006 – Tg.-Mureş, Romania

On the picture we can see a Passerine. Its size can be estimated after the leaves. The down on the head reveals that the bird is a freshly fledged juvenile. Other easily detectable characters are the thick, massive bill and the pink legs. With such characters only a few species need to be discussed.

From the larks the chestnut-headed sparrow-lark (Eremopterix signata), the black-crowned sparrow-lark (E. nigriceps) and the thick-billed lark (Rhamphocoris clotbey) have thick bills, but all of them have sandy colours and living in deserts, they do not usually sit on trees.

All species from Turdidae, Sylviidae, Paridae and Sittidae have thinner and finer bill and different plumage and thus can be excluded.

The bill of shrikes (Lanidae), in front view, may seem thick, juveniles also having barred body-sides. However, at all species the tail is longer (even at this age), they have dark feet and the throat is never yellow.

The sparrow species (Passeridae) have smaller bills and different plumage. The adult rock sparrows (Petronia petronia) have a yellow patch under the bill, on the throat, but this is small, sometimes hardly visible and the body-sides are longitudinally, not horizontally streaked.

All species of Old and New World buntings (Emberizidae) can be excluded becouse of smaller bill and different plumage characters,

The chick of the rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheuticus ludovicianus) have orange breast and body-sides, becoming streaked in juvenile plumage. Females of Spiza americana have yellow on the breast but not on the throat, considerably smaller bill and tail without whitish feathers. Some domesticated cage-birds, which may escape, like the Lonchura malabarica şi L. cantans have thick bill, which is usually grey or silver. However, as most of the cage-birds, they can have very variable plumage, juveniles never have barred body-sides and white tail feathers.

The only family in discussion is the Fringillidae, from which we shall mention only the species with thick bill. The species, like Bucanetes sp., Rhodopechys sanguinea, Rhodospiza obsoleta can be excluded by their different body plumage, bill and leg colour. From the New World only the evening grosbeak (Hesperiphona [Coccothraustes] vespertina) has similar large bill. Juveniles have grey or grey-cream coloured bills, orange-ochre head, the sides of the neck at the shoulders yellow and grey, unstreaked breast, belly and sides.

The only species left is the hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes), the bird on the picture being a freshly fledged juvenile. The thick bill is a characteristic of the species, the barred body-sides and the yellow throat of the juveniles.


- 1 right answer from 4 participants

Photo: Farkas Sándor, 2007 – Rheinland Pfalz, Germany

The bird on the picture can easily be identified as a bird of prey from the Accipiteridae family.

Its body construction makes it easy to eliminiate all the vultures, but one. Juvenile and immature Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus) need to be discussed, because of similar size and brownish colour. They can be excluded, however, because of their longer and wider wings, longer neck, darker underbody, grey legs and different patter from above.

The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) is uniformly brown from above, without distinct light markings. The underwing and underbody are predominantly white.

All eagles (Aquila sp.) can be eliminated by their different body structure. The golden eagle (A. chrysaetos) may show in worn plumage on upperwing a lighter patch formed by the worn coverts, but they always have a tail with dark terminal band, a more massive body, more fingered wings and the adults grey remiges contrasting with brown coverts. The wing becomes narrower at the base with a clearly bulging trailing edge to the arm. The lesser-spotted eagle (A. pomarina) has wider, more „fingered” wings, much shorter tail, does not have paler portion formed by the inner primaries on the underwing and all the upperwing coverts are lighter brown than the primaries. It also has a light patch at the base of the arms from above.

The dark morph booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus) is highly similar and can easily be confused, but it also has a wider and more „fingered” wing, a darker brown head, the remiges are grey below contrasting with the rest of the wing, in many cases being separated by a darker band.

The adult female and young Montague’s, hen and pallid harriers (Circus pygargus, C. cyaneus şi C. macrourus) have a long, barred tail, white patch at the base of the tail and barred underwings. Adult females from below have lighter vent and their breast is streaked. The juveniles’ base body colour from below is orange or orange-brown. All species have narrower wings with undistinct fingers.

The adult female and juvenile marsh harriers (Circus aeruginosus) are usually uniformly coloured from above. Adult females show whitish patches on upperwings, but these are at the shoulders and on the forearms. Primaries are less distinct, the tip of the wing being more rounded. The crown is cream coloured and not grey. The long, bright yellow legs reach to approximately half of the tail. Juveniles are dark brown, usually with a cream-coloured patch at the shoulders and sometimes with ochre patches on the underwing coverts. Usually there is no contrast between the remiges and the undertail coverts, but sometimes the remiges have a greyish tinge.

The buzzards (Buteo sp.) have more rounded and shorter wings, the remiges from below are white with dark barring at all ages. The honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus) is also different from the bird on the picture in all plumages.

The only two species left are the two kite species (Milvus sp.). The red kite (M. milvus) has very long, deeply forked tail, which is rufous from above and whitish from below. The juveniles are less distinctly coloured, the breast and the belly being pale-rufous with visible streaks, and the belly lighter. There is a marked contrast between the white primaries and dark secondaries of the underwing and there is a dark wing bar formed by the median and greater coverts, which is also visible at the adults. It never has a dark mask around the eyes. From above its coloration is largely rufous, creating the feeling of a light-coloured bird. The adults are more intensely coloured, with more rufous-red colour in their plumage.

The only species left is the black kite (Milvus migrans), the bird on the picture being an adult: it has an unstreaked brown underbody, a slightly forked tail, a grey head with a darker portion around the eyes and a generally brown plumage, without rufous or red colour.

Beside the correct answer, participants have opted for Red Kite (Milvus milvus) and Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus).

Round 5.- Solutions


- 2 right answers from 2 participants

Photo: Deák Attila, 2006 – Lespezi (BC), Romania

On the picture we can see a passerine with a thick bill, which makes it easy to eliminate a large sum of species. We can also appreciate its size by comparing the bird with the vegetation.

The sparrow species from the Passer, Petronia, Carpospiza şi Gymnornis genera can be excluded by the different coloration of their bill, head, breast and wings and by the absence of the light mustache. Most of the pipits (Anthus sp) show a light coloured mustache, but their bill is much finer. The following genera are left for discussion: Passerculus, Zonotrichia, Passerella, Melospiza, Calcarius şi Emberiza.

Although the savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) has an off-white or yellowish moustache, it is also heavily streaked on the sides, the outer rectrices are grey and not white, it does not have a clear supercilium and the belly is white. The white-throated sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) in first winter plumage have yellowish supercilium and moustache, but the wings are brown with white spots on the tips of the median and greater coverts, it does not have a white outer tail-feather and its belly is clear white.

Some geographical variants of the fox sparrow (Passerella iliaca) have a white moustache and brown back colour, but the sides are streaked with brown stripes, the wings are reddish-brown and the bill is usually yellowish. The outer rectrices are not white.

The song sparrow (Melospiza melodia) has heavily streaked body-sides and does not have white outer rectrices.

The juvenile and adult winter plumage Lapland longspurs (Calcarius lapponicus) have brown cheeks without a clear cut supercilium or moustache, yellowish bill and two white wing bars formed by the white tips of the median and greater wing coverts.

The young yellowhammers (Emberiza citrinella) and pine buntings (Emberiza leucocephalos) show yellow and white sides respectively, with darker streaking, no or only slightly visible suprcillium and the edge of primaries are yellow and white respectively. They also have a white patch at the ears. The young red-headed buntings (Emberiza bruniceps) have a light crown stripe, show two white wing bars and the bill is usually pink. The immature chestnut buntings (Emberiza rutila) do not have white outer rectrices and the supercilium is grey and not very accentuated, just as at the cinereous bunting (Emberiza cineracea). This latter one also has a white moustache, which, however, is not emphasized by darker feathers around it. The juveniles of the cirl bunting (Emberiza cirlus) have whitish sides with fine streaking and light coloured head. The rustic bunting (Emberiza rustica) can be excluded becouse of the two wing bars, a black one and a white one, formed by the median coverts, the presence of a small white ear-patch and the colour of the lower mandible, which is pink. The yellow-browed bunting (Emberiza chrysophrys) has a black stripe above the supercilium, a white patch at the ears, white wing bars and pink lower mandibles. The little bunting (Emberiza pusilla) does not have a complete supercilium, shows a white ear-patch and the tips of the median coverts are white. The body-sides are white with streaks and it has a straight, not curved, culmen. The immature black-faced buntings (Emberiza spodocephala) have grey cheeks and supercilium and a light wing bar.

Pallas’s reed bunting (Emberiza pallasi) has a fine bill with yellowish-pink lower mandible, grey lesser wing-coverts, the tips of the median and greater coverts cream coloured, just as the streaks from the sternum region. The body-sides and belly are cream, without any streaks or are only faintly streaked, it has unstreaked breast and the stripes above the supercilium lighter brown.

The only species left is the reed bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus). The bird in the picture is a female.

All participants have identified this species correctly.


- 3 right answer from 3 participants


Photo: Deák Attila, 2006 – Covasna (CV), Romania

The bird on the picture is a small passerine. Its greenish colour makes it easy to eliminate a series of species, including the genera Sylvia, Locustella and Cettia.

The Cape Verde warbler (Acrocephalus brevipennis) can be excluded because of its longer tail, coffee-brown colour and small, rounded wing. Its supercilium is usually not visible. The other small sized Acrocephalus species’ ground colour is usually brown or olive, they have longer tail and off white or greyish white body sides. Some of them (A. scirpaceus, A. palustris) have a supercilium not reaching behind the eyes, others (A. dumetorum, A. agricola) have a longer supercilium, but the primary projection at these species is shorter and the wing is more rounded. The larger Acrocephalus species (A. arundinaceus, A. stentoreus, A. griseldis, A. orientalis şi A. aedon) can be eliminated by their larger size and shorter supercilium not reaching behind the eye.

The icterine and melodious warblers (Hippolais icterina şi H. polyglotta) do not have a supercilium. The legs of the icterine warbler are grey and it also has a pale panel in the wing. The melodious warbler has a shorter primary projection, wich makes the tail seem longer. Its secondaries are grey-brown in juvenile and brown in adult plumage. From the small, grey Hippolais species only H. caligata and H. rama has visible supercilium, but both of them can be excluded by their grey-brown colour, whitish body sides and shorter primary projection.

The Vireo species (V. philadelphicus and V. olivaceus) have a distinct white supercilium, white body sides and grey crown. The Tennessee warbler (Vermivora peregrina) has white undertail coverts in contrast with the rest of the underbody, which is yellow. It also has grey remiges and grey legs. All Dendroica species can be eliminated because of their different plumage colouration.

The female Nile valley sunbird (Anthreptes metallicus) can be excluded by its mostly grey-brown back and black legs.

The only genus left is the Phylloscopus genus. All species with a wing bar can easily be excluded. The Radde’s warbler (Ph. schwarzi) and the dusky warbler (Ph. fuscatus) have a dark brown-olive back, distinct white-cream and cream-brown supercilia, respectively, rounded wings with dark remiges and brown body sides. The Radde’s warbler also has yellow-orange undertail coverts.

The Bonelli’s warbler and Eastern Bonelli’s warblers (Ph. bonelli şi Ph. orientalis) have their throat, breast and body sides clear white, a vague grey supercilium, grey edged tertials and rather grey back colour. Ph. collybita, Ph. lorenzii, Ph. neglectus, Ph. sindianus, Ph. canariensis can be excluded by their back colour, which is usually brown, greenish-brown or greyish-brown, by their supercilium, which becomes less prominent behind the eye, by the dark legs and shorter primary projection. The Iberian chiffchaff (Ph. ibericus) usually also has brown or greenish-brown back colour, but sometimes specimens with green back can be observed. However it has a more rounded wing, a yellow supercilium, which becomes whiter behind the eyes accentuated by the dark stripe below it. Its body sides are white and it has brown or black-brown legs.

The wood warbler (Ph. sibilatrix) has an olive-green back, wide and long yellow supercilium, yellow throat and breast, clear white sides and belly and a long primary projection causing the tail to seem short.

Some species, which have only one wing bar can be confused, as the wing bar may be covered by feathers or it is less distinct. The greenish warbler (Ph. trochiloides) has a short primary projection, off white breast, white supercilium and body sides and usually grey-brown legs. The arctic warbler (Ph. borealis) has a long supercilium reaching the nape, which is accentuated by the darker line below it. Its breast is off white with indistinct grey streaks and off white sides.

The only species left is the willow warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus), the all yellow under parts being characteristic for juveniles.

Round 4.- Solutions


- 2 right answers from 2 participants

Photo: Kelemen A. Márton, 1996 – Tg.-Mureş (MS), Romania

The bird on the picture can easily be determined as a passerine. The shape of the bill also tells us that it is a seed-eater. Consequently we shall discuss some species of the Passeridae, Fringillidae and Emberizidae.

The female snow buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis) show yellow bill in the winter, but do not have stripes on their breast and head. The females and juveniles of the Lapland longspur (Calcarius lapponicus) also have yellowish bill, but they also show two white wing-bars formed by the white tips of the greater and median coverts, light longitudinal stripes on the back and the colour of the greater coverts is warm-brown.

From Passeridae only snowfinch (Montifringilla nivalis) has yellow bill in winter, but this species is completely different, having for example grey head and a lot of white in the wings.

From Fringillidae only some Carduelis species have small, sharp, yellow bill, species from the genera Bucanetes and Rhodopechys have thick bills. Other species can easily excluded by their completely different coloration.

Adults of the arctic redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni) have a finely patterned yellowish-grey head, black lore, small black patch at the chin, supercilium and body sides whitish. Males have pink breast and both of the sexes have red forehead. The white tips of the greater coverts form a clear white wing-bar. Juveniles are in general darker with darker bills, but white wing-bars are always present.

Adults of redpoll (Carduelis flammea flammea and C.f. cabaret) have similar characteristics as the previous species. In general tend to be more browner and the breast of adult males is darker pink or red. Wing-bars and the white supercilium are sometimes less visible than at the arctic redpoll. Juveniles are of yellowish-brown ground colour, with brown streaks on the flanks and the wing-bar is usually less prominent.

Young birds from the genus Serinus are yellowish-brown with dark streaks, but neither of them have yellow bill.

Linnets (Carduelis cannabina), as the bird in the image, show white edges to primaries, but the head is grey-brown contrasting with the back and has a grey bill in all plumages.

The only species left is the twite (Carduelis falvirostris), the bird on the picture being one in autumn plumage, with brown-yellow base colour, dark streaks and yellow bill.

All participants have identified this species correctly.


- 1 right answer from 6 participants

Photo: Domahidi Zoltán, 2005 – Leduc, Canada

The bird belongs to Laridae, having an adult, winter plumage. From the Chlidonias species only the white-winged tern (Chlidonias leucopterus) has white head in winter, the other two species having black cap. The remiges of this species, however, are always white and it also has short, red legs.

Other tern species (Sterna sp.) can be eliminated because of their different head pattern, colour and length of their bill, tail and legs. Only gull-billed (Sterna nilotica) and Forster’s tern (Sterna forsteri) have white head with black patch behind the eye, but the former has short, black legs and thick bill, the latter short, red legs.

From the genus Larus, the black-headed (Larus ridibundus) and brown-headed gulls (Larus brunnicephalus) can be excluded, as they have longer and thicker bill, which is red with black tip in winter. Also legs are red. Black-headed gulls usually also show two prominent black dots on the head: one above the eyes, the other behind them. The brown-headed gull has grey-white iris in adult plumage.

The grey-headed gull (Larus cirrocephalus) in winter plumage has a light coloured (white, light grey or cream) iris, purple legs, purple-red bill, light grey head with slightly visible grey dot at the ears and a darker grey mantle. Immatures have orange-red legs and bill with black tip.

Slender-billed gull (Larus genei) in winter plumage has a long, red bill (dark red or balck only in summer), long neck, red or red-orange, long legs and usually does not show a dot behind the eyes. If it does, then it is very faint.

Adult winter plumage mediterranean gull (Larus melanocephalos) has white remiges, a red, thick bill with a black ring, red legs and a dark mask covering the regions of the eyes, ears and nape. Upperparts are very light both at the adults and immatures. Immatures also have a dark mask, orange or red-orange bill with black tip and balckish-red legs.

Little gull (Larus minutus) does not have black remiges and beside the black dot behind the eyes it also has a black cap at the crown and nape. The legs are short, red or pink. The birds in first winter plumage have a much black in the wing, but the black cap makes it easy to eliminate.

Ross’s gull (Rhodostethia rosea) has a black dot at the ears only in the first winter and adult winter plumages. Adults, however, have an almost all white body with a pinkish colouring on the sides and breasts, and red legs. The first winter and first summer birds show some black in the wing. The bill is very short.

Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla) in juvenile plumage shows the black ear-patch, but it has much black in the wing, a black colar on the upper neck and dark tip of the tail. In second winter the collar dissapears, but the bill becomes yellow with black tip. It has short, blackish legs. The red-legged kittiwake (Rissa brevirostris) has short, red legges, dark-grey mantle and very small bill, which is black at juveniles and yellow at adults.

The Bonaparte’s gull (Larus philadelphia) is the only species remaining in discussion, which has black, relatively short bill, shows a single dot behind the eyes and has pink or pink-yellow legs.

Beside the correct answer, participants have opted for black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus), grey-headed gull (Larus cirrocephalus) and slender-billed gull (Larus genei).

Round 3.- Solutions


- 1 right answer from 3 participants

Photo: Kelemen A. Márton, 1996 – Senetea (HR), Romania

It is visible on the first glance that the bird on the photo is small sized Passerine. Its plumage colour helps us to eliminate a lot of species; only larks, pipits, Locustella warblers and chats show some similarity. All buntings can be eliminated by their longer and poorly forked tails, their back and rump-colour.

The outer tail-feathers of the Skylark (Alauda arvensis) are completely white and it also has a white subterminal band on the wings. The Oriental Skylark’s (Alauda gulgula) outer tail feathers and the tip of the wing feathers are off-white – greyish brown and the central tail feathers grey.

The Crested Lark and the Thekla Lark (Galerida cristata and G. theklae) have grey and rusty rumps respectively without any pattern, contrasting with the back. The outer tail feathers are ochre-rusty and they are also larger sized than the bird on the picture.

The Woodlark (Lullula arborea) can easily be excluded by its characteristic wing pattern and white tipped tail feathers. The small sized species of the Calandrella genus (C. brachydactyla, C. rufescens, C. acutirostris and C. Cheleensis) can be eliminated, depending on the species, by their unspotted rump, different back and wing-colour. The other lark species can be excluded mainly by their different colour and size, also having their tertials longer than the bird in discussion.

Pipits (Anthus sp.) can be ruled out by their very long tertials, visible when the wing is opened, their back- and rump pattern and their upper median wing-coverts, which usually are in contrast with the rest of the wing. The outer tail feathers can be white or grey, but they have the same colour on the whole lengths of the feather.

The Locustella warblers have round tail-tip, the central tail feathers being much longer than the outer ones.

Thus the only species to discuss are the three Saxicola species.

The females and juveniles of the Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) have all dark coloured tails (black or brown) and show a large white patch at the shoulders, clearly visible when the wing is opened. On the back it has only black spots, without any white markings.

The Canary Island Chat (Saxicola dacotiae) also has all dark tail. Its back is spotted with lighter brown spots, but it also lacks any white marking giving a more uniform look to the upper part of the body.

The bird in the image has white outer tail feathers with black distal part, its back is spotted with larger black and smaller white spots and it does not have a white spot on the upper wing. So it’s easy to conclude now that the bird on the photo is a Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra).

Beside the correct answer the bird was also determined as Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus).


- 7 right answers from 9 participants

Photo: Domahidi Zoltán, 2005 – Leduc, Kanada

After a short look at the picture we can easily say that the bird is a shorebird (Limicola). The fact that the legs and the bill are not visible make difficult to appreciate their length, we have to relay on other identification keys as body shape and plumage colour. It helps our identification if we can decide the age of the bird. Plumage characteristics tell that the bird is a juvenile.

Among the Calidris species only the juveniles of Pectoral Sandpiper and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper might have similar length and thickness of their neck, similar coloured breast, neck and crown, although entering into the water till breast it’s not their typical behaviour.

The juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) doesn’t have a white orbital ring and prominent pale supercilium and has white flanks and white “braces” on scapulars. The juvenile of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata) has intense buffy breast (not dull) with few streaks and has rufous cap and rufous outer web of tertials.

Other Calidris species and the Broad-billed Sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus) can be excluded due to their short neck and different head, neck and body colour.

Some shorebirds with scaly pattern on their back (Dotterel, Ruff and Buff-breasted Sandpiper) can be also excluded because of the colour of their tail, breast and head.

Species from genus Tringa have thinner neck and smaller head compared with the body size; they also can be excluded because of the colour of their back, flanks, neck and head.

Juvenile Godwits. The Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) can be excluded because its serrated tertials, whitish flanks, and colour of its back. We can also exclude the Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) because of its different back, buffy-orange neck and breast and black tail. The Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) has whitish flanks, more uniformly coloured grey median secondary coverts, tertials without any pale edge and black tail.

Our bird can not be a Curlew (Numenius sp.) either because these species have serrated tertials, different colour of secondary, flanks and back parts, streaked neck and breast.

We can exclude the Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) because it’s thin, long neck and very small head as well as its different plumage colour and tail.

The characteristic colour of the Snipes is also different from this bird.

The juvenile Stilt Sandpiper (Micropalama [Calidris] himantopus) doesn’t have uniformly coloured neck and flanks but with fine stripes on. The edge of the scapulars are whitish, the tail is grey and not barred and has rufous ear-patch.

The remained two species are the juvenile Dowitchers (Limnodromus sp.).

The Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) has buffy breast bright overall, darker crown contrasting with the rest of the head. The feathers of the back are sculy and not rhomb-shaped. Tertials and greater coverts are dark with contrasting broad rufous-buff edges and bars. This pattern is obvious and characteristic of this species.

After excluding the above described species we can tell that the bird on the picture is a juvenile Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus). On this bird we can observe the unmarked greyish tertials and scapulars only with narrow rusty edges and greyish breast.

The barred tail is also visible, this helped us to exclude many species.

Other answers beside the correct solution were the followings: Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) and Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus).

Round 2.- Solutions


1 right answer from 5 participants

Photo: Deák Attila, 2006 – Târgu Mureş, Romania

The bird on the picture is a small sized passerine. The shape of the bill helps us to eliminate a large number of species, as it is a bill of a seed eating bird.

Although some of the larks have a similar bill, neither of them show plumage like the bird in the picture. Their bill colour is also usually lighter.

The alpine accentor (Prunella collaris) and the dunnock (Prunella modularis) have slightly similar back pattern, but they can be easily ruled out by the form of their tail, which is not forked, does not show a darker distal part and their bill is much thinner.

From the sparrows (Passeridae) we can think of the hill sparrow (Carpospiza brachydactyla), Iago sparrow (Passer iagoensis), spanish sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis) and house sparrow (Passer domesticus).

The first species has a light grey-brown back without any dark streaks, an unspotted greyish-white breast and a silver grey bill.

The other three species, like the bird in the picture, have a brown back with black streaks. They can be, however eliminated by the following characters: their tails are not or only slightly forked, greyish brown, without a darker distal part. Their bill is dark only in the breeding season, becoming grey with yellowish base in the winter. Both males and females show a whitish wingbar formed by the median coverts. The forhead and crown of the P. domesticus are grey and the supercillium and nape are brown in winter. The streaked superior part of the head and the dark bill eliminates the females of all three species, these having a uniformly coloured head and a lighter yellowish-grey bill.

The American species from the Spizella, Passerculus, Zonotrichia and Melospiza genera can be ruled out by their different plumage characters and bill colour. Also the species from Emberizidae can be eliminated becouse of their different head and breast pattern.

Thus it is visible now, that the bird belongs to the finches (Fringillidae), being one of the following species: linnet (Carduelis cannabina), citril finch (Serinus citrinella), syrian serin (Serinus syriacus), serin (Serinus serinus), greenfinch (Carduelis chloris), oriental greenfinch (Carduelis sinica) and the rosefinches (Carpodacus genus).

The female linnet can be ruled out by its more robust body, black tail with white panel at the edge, finer, grey coloured bill, its off-whitish yellow breast and belly with brown streaks and coffee- brown back with only slightly visible stripes.

The young birds of S. syriacus, S. serinus şi S. citrinella can be eliminated on the first hand by their small, short and cone shaped bill, the latter two species having also a tail without a darker distal part. The inferior part of the body of the S. serinus is off white with dark streaks, dirty yellow with fine streaks at the S. citrinella and greyish- yellow without any streaks at the S. syriacus. S. citrinella also shows two distinct yellow wing bars.

Females and juveniles of all species of Carpodacus, except the pale rosefinch (C. synoicus), have a finer streaking on a homogenous brown base colour on the upper parts and a more pronounced streaking on their breast and belly, and a uniform tail colour. Females and juveniles of C. synoicus are sand coloured without any distinct streaking.

The oriental greenfinch (Carduelis sinica) in all ages has pink bill. Eliminating all these species we can realise that the bird on the picture is a young greenfinch (Carduelis chloris).

Beside the solution other answers sent were: serin (Serinus serinus), dunnock (Prunella modularis), linnet (Carduelis cannabina) and house sparrow (Passer domesticus).


- 4 right answers from 9 participants

Photo: Domahidi Zoltán, 2005 – Leduc, Kanada

The bird in the picture can be easily identified as a species of shorebird. The length of the tibia and colour of the leg eliminates all of the species from the following genera: Charadrius, Calidris, Limosa, Numenius, Limnodromus, Pluvialis, Phalaropus, Actitis, Xenus şi Gallinago, although some of the species have yellow legs.

The ruff (Philomachus pugnax) and the buff-breasted sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis) can have in some plumages yellow legs, but their bill is shorter, the pattern of upper wings and mantle are scaly, the tertial remiges show white edges, the colour of their under body is cream or off-white and the outer rectrices are not white with black barring.

The upland sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) can have yellowish legs, but it has a very long tail, longer than the wingtips, with barring on a brown base colour. The general colour of the plumage is totaly different from that of the bird visible on the picture.

The juvenile and winter plumage stilt sandpipers (Micropalma himantopus) have long greater coverts on the upper wing, the edge of the tertials white, the neck with fine streaks and the sides of the body finely spotted. The edge of the tail is grey and the bill is longer.

The two species of Limnodromus have shorter tibia, thicker, longer and lighter coloured bills, and the colour of the under parts are cream in juvenile plumage and grey in winter plumage. Breeding birds look totally different from the bird on the picture.

Heteroscelus brevipes also has short tibia, thicker bill, a uniform grey colour of the upper parts and a long, grey tail.

The only genus left for discussion is the Tringa genus.

The wood sandpiper (Tringa glareola) has yellow-green or yellow legs with slightly shorter tibia and bill, the latter being also thicker. The back pattern of breeding and moulting birds show large black and white spots in contrast with the bird on the picture, which is finely spotted on a grey base colour. The white pattern of the tertials is on dark brown base, not grey. The posterior part of the wood sandpiper is not as lengthwise as that of the bird on the picture.

The young redshanks (Tringa totanus) have yellow-orange legs, but their bill is much thicker and red at the base, the tibia is shorter, the back is brown and the breast and sides of the body are densely streaked. It also has a plumper and less lengthwise body.

The marsh sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) in breeding plumage or in the moult period has yellow-green legs and lengthwise body, just like the bird on the picture. This similarity is accentuated by the fact that it also has long legs and a thin bill. However it has grey back with large black spots without white and the tertials lack the white markings and show dark barring.

The greenshank (Tringa nebularia) has greenish legs, showing only rarely some yellowish colour. The colour of the underparts are similar to that of the marsh sandpiper. The long and thick bill is slightly upturned, grey at the base and black towards the end.

The spotted redshank (Tringa erythropus) in all plumages has orange, dark pink or red legs, the juveniles having orange legs, but never yellow. They are also densely barred on the under parts. Breeding birds have black legs and body plumage. In winter plumage the back is grey, the under parts whitish and the legs bright red. The bill is long and the lower mandible is always red on the base.

After excluding all these species only two American species are left to be discussed: the greater- and lesser yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca and T. flavipes).

The greater yellowlegs has longer, thicker, slightly upturned grey bill, which is greenish-grey at the base and black towards the end. In breeding plumage and moulting period it shows on the bodysides dark barring. The base colour of the tertials is dark brown – black and not grey.

The only species left is the lesser yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) showing white body sides, relatively short and thin bill of black colour, finely spotted grey back and grey tertials with white markings.

Beside the solution other answers sent were marsh sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) and spotted redshank (Tringa erythropus).

Round 1.- Solutions


- 2 right answers from 6 participants

Acrocephalus schoenobaenus – Photo: Kelemen A. Márton , 1995 July – Senetea (HR), Romania

On the first sight we can realize that the bird is a songbird (Passeriformes) and due to the hand we can have a reasonably good idea about the birds size, which is medium to small size passerine of about 12-15 cm. This rules out the thrushes which may have slightly similar colors.

The size and shape of the bill is helping us to rule out the finches, sparrows and buntings.

The general creamy color of the bird and the obvious white supercilium narrows the possibilities to the larks, pipits and medium size warblers.

All of the potential lark species are significantly bigger than the bird on the picture, and as an addition should have at least some coloration on the breast. The pipits should have longer tail, with at least some visible white color on the outermost tail feathers.

From the warblers we can rule out the Sylvia , Hippolais and Phylloscopus warblers due to the combination of coloration and size.

This leaves us the Locustella and Acrocephalus warblers to choose from.

Most of the Locustella warblers are lacking the conspicuous supercillium, the only species which may have similar supercillium are the Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia) and the Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella certhiola).

The Grasshopper Warbler should have slimmer bill, a warmer creamy color and some cream color and stripes on the flanks. It should also lack the dark eyestripe and lore. The feathers on the back should have a clear dark center.

The Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler should have redish color on the rump, tail and flanks and obvious dark centers on the back feathers as well as on the lesser and median covers.

Among the Acrocephalus warblers there are three potential species the Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola), the Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon) and the Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus).

The Moustached Warbler should have a general redish coloration especially on the flanks and on the rump, markings on the back and much shorter primary projection. On the picture is also visible that the tip of the outermost primary is not reaching the greater primary covers, which in the case of the Moustached should exceed the covers.

In the case of the Aquatic Warbler the light stripe on the back (and even the darker center of the back) should be clearly visible and the lesser and median covers should have pronounced dark centers.

This leaves us with the Sedge Warbler and indeed the bird on the picture is an adult Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus) in worn summer plumage.

Some of the participants submitted incorrect answers for this competition. The bird was identified as Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), Aquatic Warbler (A. paludicola), Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca) and female Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica).


- 2 right answers from 13 participants

Charadrius dubius – Photo: Deák Attila, 2006 May – Chinar (MS), Romania

Visible on this flying bird is the shape and the length of the wings, the color of the back, rump and tail. Using these identification keys, we can eliminate most of the species. Among songbirds, the only species that has a similar tail pattern is the Rufous Bush Robin (Cercotricas galactotes) . The Rufous Bush Robin however, has a more rufous rump, rounded and shorter wings. The tail pattern is also different, as on the outermost tail feathers should have white only on the tips.

Looking at the picture, it’s obvious that we are dealing with a shorebird (Charadriiformes), more exactly the genus Galinago , Actitis and Charadrius. We can exclude other small size shorebird species from genus Calidris and Tringa mainly due to the rump and tail pattern.

Species from the genus Gallinago can be excluded because these have a different rump pattern and fine stripes on their back. The two species from the Actitis genus can also be excluded due to the lack of a conspicuous wing-bar, as well as their different tail pattern.

The only remaining genus is the Charadrius.

We can eliminate species as C. pecuarius, C. asiaticus and C. leschenaultii because their toe projection in flight, in these species the toes should be visible. These species also have obvious white wing-bars or mirrors. The adult of the C. morinellus can be excluded because of the contrast between the rump and back coloration on the picture (striped back on juveniles), and the outermost tail feathers should not be entirely white as on our bird.

C. vociferus has a bright rufous-orange rump, 2-3 dark bars on its outermost tail feathers and obvious broad white wing-bars contrasting with the black of the wings. As a result in can be ruled out as a potential solution. The remaining species are the C. semipalmatus, C. hiaticula, C. mongolus, C. alexandrinus and C. dubius. Due to the lack of white wing-bar of this bird, we can eliminate all of these species except the Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius), which has a very thin hardly visible white wing-bar.

After close examination one can realize that the whitish color on the tips of the inner flight feathers is not symmetrical on the two wings, this is in fact shining color because of the movement of the wing and not true color.

Some of the participants submitted incorrect answers for this competition. The bird was identified as Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus), Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula), Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos) and Rufous Bush Robin (Cercotrichas galactotes).

2 Responses to Competition 2007

  1. Szilárd says:

    Bună ziua,

    Marea majoritate dintre păsările lumii încă nu au denumire românească.
    Acum cca. 15 ani s-a dat nume românesc la un numőr destul de mare de specii din Europa, dar și la o mică parte dintre cele din Asia, Africa de Nord și America de Nord, cu precădere specii, care apar accidental și în Europa.
    Dimitrie Radu în cartea „Mic Atlas Ornitologicˮ – editura Albatros 1983, a dat nume neoficiale la multe dintre păsările lumii, însă aceste denumiri nu prea au fost utilizate sau preluate așa încât să aibă o circulație mai largă.
    Până în prezent, în Europa s-au observat 5 specii aparținând acestui gen (V. flavifrons, V. philadelphicus, V. altiloquus, V. olivaceus și V. griseus)
    Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus) nu este o specie endemică, fiind relativ larg răspândită în America de Nord, specie care apare spodaric în Europa, mai ales pe Insulele Britanie, unde are până în prezent peste 180 de observații. Denumire românească oficială nu are, dar a fost citat ca și ‘vireo cu ochi roșii’, evident tradus din denumirea engleză.

    White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) nu are denumire românească. Această specie cuibărește în partea de sud al Americii de Nord, fiind observat doar de 2 ori în Palearcticul de Vest, data mai recentă fiind din 4 octombrie 2008 (Ribeira Da Lapa, insula Corvo, Azore).

    Comitetul de rarități avifaunistice din România, care se va înființa în acest an, va avea între sarcinile lui de termen mediu și găsirea unor denumiri româneșt pentru toate speciile care au apărut pe continentul european, dar nu numai.

    Vă mulțumim pentru interesul acordat.


  2. vinci says:

    Buna ziua,

    M-ar interesa foarte mult sa stiu daca exista vreun corespondent in limba romana pentru red-eyed vireo si white-eyed vireo. Am gasit pentru amandoua denumirile latinesti, dar exista o forma romaneasca pentru aceste pasari endemice?
    Multumesc anticipat!

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